Dedicated to Mr Becker’s pecker

In a world of war, ugly journalism and too much hot hair, this in today: Mr Becker, from Los Angeles, had his penis cut off on Monday by his estranged (and clearly emotionally unbalanced) wife. It’s a truly horrible thing to have happened, but to have such a good rhyming name? Not quite a Wiener, but gee it lends itself to a limerick …

There once was a woman called Becker
who cut off her poor husband’s pecker
On her way to divorce
she used drugs and some force
to become the ultimate home wrecker

Having lured Mr Becker to dinner
she didn’t want him fatter, but thinner
A long kitchen knife
won’t improve your life
as the garbage disposal’s the winner

From the Daily MailBecker is now being held at the Orange County jail, charged with aggravated mayhem, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, administering a drug with intent to commit a felony, poisoning and spousal abuse

A polite request

Dear Muse

You know we’ve talked about this before. Can you please visit between 10am and 2pm Mon-Fri, and not between 4-6pm and after 10pm. It’s impractical and keeps me tired.

Please re-organise your schedule to accommodate those hours and I’m sure we’ll both benefit.

Thank you

I am NOT a sucker

I made a bad decision on 8 August last year.  A really, really bad decision.  Not a life changing decision, but a financially irresponsible decision that continues to gnaw away at me and, more specifically, my bank account like a parasitic worm with my funds getting thinner each month as its contents are consumed.

Everything about this decision astounds me: that it happened, that I let it happen, and its ramifications.  At this stage I must say that my husband agreed with my decision, but I was the one doing the urging so I shoulder the responsibility of making it.

It had been a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Fremantle, and we were walking back to the car when a man approached us with a scratchie and asked if we’d like to scratch with the opportunity to win a prize.

Now, I am not a sucker.  I can play along with the game, so I did.  I asked him who he worked for and he told us it was for a travel organisation.  Sure, I’ll scratch.

Well, we had a chance of winning three things: a voucher blah, or a local two-for-one cafe blah, or – the big prize – $1000 cash OR a flat-screen TV OR a week’s accommodation at a resort. Why not?

Bugger me, we won the big prize. The man was pretty pleased because, as he said enthusiastically, he’d just scored $50 commission for having the big one.  I was a bit taken aback as I thought it was all about us, not him, so I thought this added some credibility to the situation.

But! And here’s the first but: we had to come with him now and sit through a no-obligation presentation for an hour or so in order to find out if we’d won the cash, the TV or the accommodation.  At this stage, we thought we were in a pretty good position – we’d won something tangible – but we couldn’t go now because it was late on a Sunday.  “No problem,” said our man, “let’s book you in for next week” and he took our number and said someone would call us to confirm a time, which they duly did.

And we duly rocked up the following weekend, on the promise that there was a play area for the kids and they’d be fine – which there was, and they were.  It was an older building which had had a touch-up, with lots of posters on the freshly painted walls of smiling couples and families on sun-bleached beaches or staring from balconies across an ocean/coastline/cityscape. We were then given what can only be described as ‘the hard sell’ for a worldwide travel organisation that has accommodation properties in Australian and overseas, and access to one of the world’s largest US-based travel organisations.

All we had to do was just sit down, listen to the spiel, watch the video, say ‘no thank you’, take our voucher and leave. After all, I’d worked in the travel industry, and was confident in handling all our travel requirements directly.

We had just become a single income family for the first time. We have no disposable income. We only travel once a year, and that’s usually short hops within WA.

We signed up. And paid a deposit. And completed a finance agreement for direct debit over the next 2 years.

Now, I am not a sucker!  But I was sucked in by a very well run selling team of three people. I watched their tactics, their faces, their body language throughout. Dammit, I was critiquing them! And still I signed up.

I regretted it the very next day. I knew we’d made a mistake.  I was so devastated I couldn’t bring myself to read the all the glossy brochures and paperwork they’d put in the gorgeous faux leather folder we’d been given, along with our introductory 2-for-1 cruise voucher.

I wish I had. Because then I would have realised, as I subsequently did eight weeks later when I finally took a deep breath and read the fine print, that there had been a cooling off period, as is legally required, and we could have changed our mind.  But now it was well and truly too late. Fuckit.

I must congratulate the organisation for its selling bravado. On the day we went in for our presentation, there was a steady stream of couples coming in to the room to be welcomed to a desk and personally presented to. Later, the video in the dimly lit lounge sold the concept of ‘holiday’ beautifully – especially to the target demographic of our age group and salary range (established from the outset by our man on the street – he wasn’t going to waste his time on the ‘non-holidaying-sort’).

I’m still not exactly sure where they got me. I think it was doing a cost comparison of our long-proposed holiday to Europe in 2012 using anticipated costs versus what we could save in using their properties – a considerable amount which cancelled out the combined membership costs.  The fact that they don’t have a lot of properties or choice in the UK, Netherlands and Paris is now no help, but it’s still 18 months away so anything’s possible …

And, what did we win?  We won the week’s accommodation, with a choice from across a number of South East Asian resorts (Thailand and Bali from memory). So we’d still have to get airfares etc.

But! And here’s a good ‘but’ – because we’d signed up, we could transfer the accommodation to 25,000 points, and then use the points at our discretion for whatever travel goodies we wanted.  We’d just heard about how the organisation is aligned with a campervan company, and thought, “yippee, perhaps this will help us plan a campervan holiday in Tassie next time we visit the family.”

Fast forward eight weeks or so, and I did want to check out campervan options for Tassie after deciding to plan a surprise holiday with the tax return money coinciding with a signficant birthday and a significant sporting event in March.

Would you believe it: the allocation of campervans for that time in Tassie wasn’t available.  And the hire car costs weren’t going to be cost-competitive, the travel consultant told me, so I should keep the points for a later date. That then put the campervan option out the window.  And the hire car option. So I went ahead and booked a hire car directly with the rental car company.

Just recently we went to a lovely wedding in the South West of the state. We needed a night’s accommodation. We ended up using the points for one night’s accommodation at a new property in the regional city – probably worth about $190 based on what the Receptionist told me when we checked out.

We’ve already paid $1747 in fees.  Sure, once it’s all paid we’ll have membership for 15 years. That’s a lot of accommodation, and a lot of travelling we’ll have to do to get our money’s worth. While we’re working our guts out to pay off the debt … with little time for holidays.

The whole thing has reminded me of the great expression, “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”

What an experience this has been.

I am not a sucker.

Thanks to Cat and Girl for Bad Decision Dinosaur – seemed to sum me up.

The inner weather girl got angry

Apparently the Dutch have a fascination for weather.  So my girlfriend told me once, and she reckoned it was because if you lived in a country that’s at risk of being submerged every time it gets a decent bit of rain, you’d want to check the weather pretty regularly too. She based her theory on being married to a Dutch man who is interested in weather, so I can’t vouch for its accuracy.

However, being half Dutch, I find there’s a bit of truth to be had from that sweeping generalisation.  I had a brief ‘Eureka’ moment when she said it because it sort of helped explain my lifelong interest in weather. 

As a child, staying at Oma and Opa’s (my Dutch grandparents) during the holidays on the south coast of WA, heaven forbid if you even breathed loudly during the weather section on the ABC TV news.   Sometimes it was just better to try and hold your breath and creep out of the lounge room so you could think without being scolded.

Their predictable habit became a useful communication tool as I grew older, because now if I want to call Oma I wait until 7.31pm.  It used to be a dead cert I’d get her and she could then talk authoritatively about the weather to ‘break the ice’.  I say ‘used to’ because now, at 94 and with wireless TV audio direct to her hearing aids (yes!) it’s not so certain.  Mind you, she’s also got the digital desktop weather station alongside the crochet hooks and sidoku, so she still knows what temperature it is any time of the day or night. Just in case.

Moving on, during high school in geography classes I learnt some of the more formal parts of weather, which sort of helped explain the physics behind the ‘Dutchiness’ interest in weather. I say sort of because, I mean, really:

Fast forward 20 years or so, and I found myself at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation working for Local Radio in a regional studio – the serious domain of serious weather.  I did so enjoy reading the coastal waters forecasts *sigh*.  Now that I look back at it, that’s when I knew that a little weeny part of my cerebellum had personally and professionally fused.

And of course I was in the Pilbara, where cyclones are a real weather threat for six months of the year, when it’s not fricken hot for the other six months – note large dark red pimple on the north-west coast of WA which is where I’m talking about.

 Broadcasting for prolonged periods of time under pressure, in a studio itself shaking and howling with the wind and the community relying on your ability to communicate information, is a serious responsibility – and one that remains up the top of the ‘Life Experiences Top Ten’ so far.

Which brings me, in a long and roundabout way, to a few weeks ago when Perth experienced one of its nastiest storms in recent times.  Where I live wasn’t affected badly, and I’m grateful.  Bearing this in mind, last week the weather bureau issued a severe weather warning for the metropolitan area because another storm was imminent.  In their advice they said no hail was expected (as per the freak storm), and no road weather alert was issued either. But they were obviously being cautious because Perthites were jittery.

Imagine my surprise then when I turned up to uni for my 5-9pm lectures, after having driven over an hour in drizzle-affected panicky traffic, to find my classes cancelled due to the weather.

Somehow 40-odd years of weather loving, cyclone experiencing, anti-weather-gang-mentality (I just made that up) indignation rose to the surface. 

I mean, come ON!  You call that a storm?  This is the kind of storm I’m used to, when palm trees blow sideways and you can’t hear yourself think for the wind, and you finally see just why there are no roof gutters on Pilbara houses, because they couldn’t support the weight of rainfall.

Grrr.  As a Dutch person would say in the Pilbara, “Word taai, prinses.”

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, enjoy Bik Runga’s lovely song, Listening for the weather, which, not surprisingly, used to be on the ABC playlist!

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Hello!  I’m still setting up in this space and not really settled in yet after transferring everything  from my former blog address. 

In the meantime, come on in and have a drink and a wander around before the full blog-warming party begins. 

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